Glucosamine has been a popular supplement for many decades. It is generally used to help with arthritis and to prevent joint degeneration. Glucosamine is also known to delay cancer growth.
Another benefit of glucosamine is its role in helping to reduce the metabolism of nutritive sugars, something that was previously shown 50 years ago. Researchers fed glucosamine to aging mice in addition to their normal diet. The mice were 100 weeks of age, reflecting a comparative human age of approximately 65 years. A control group of mice did not receive glucosamine while otherwise having an identical diet. Feeding the glucosamine to the mice extended their lifespan by almost ten percent, which is approximately 8 additional years of a human lifespan. In addition, the glucosamine improved glucose metabolism in elderly mice, demonstrating protection from diabetes.
Further testing revealed that glucosamine promotes the breakdown of amino acids. Amino acids are key components of proteins, and they become preferentially metabolized in the absence of carbohydrates. This mimics the metabolic state of a low-carb diet due to glucosamine supplementation alone. This implies that glucosamine would mimic a low-carb diet in humans as well without the necessity of reducing the uptake of carbohydrates in our daily diet.
Should we start taking supplemental glucosamine? It may not be a bad idea. Metabolic syndrome and diabetes can be serious life-threatening conditions. Blood sugar control is typically measured by hemoglobin A1c and is correlated with carbohydrate and sugar consumption. The process of glycation escalates the production of free radicals; glycation of proteins dramatically increases inflammation and the risk for diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer’s. Glucosamine was shown to improve glucose metabolism by 10%. Interestingly, two recent epidemiological studies on more than 77,000 individuals suggest that intake of glucosamine supplements is associated with reduced mortality in humans. Since there are no known side effects of glucosamine supplementation, it is something that definitely should be considered.
Source: Sandra Weimer, Josephine Priebs, Doreen Kuhlow, Marco Groth, Steffen Priebe, Johannes Mansfeld, Troy L. Merry, Sébastien Dubuis, Beate Laube, Andreas F. Pfeiffer, Tim J. Schulz, Reinhard Guthke, Matthias Platzer, Nicola Zamboni, Kim Zarse, Michael Ristow. D-Glucosamine supplementation extends life span of nematodes and of ageing mice. Nature Communications, 2014; 5 DOI:10.1038/ncomms4563